In the year 2000 we were supposed to see rocket cars and matter transporters. We didn't quite make it there, but there were several advancements in food. Some are good, some are bad and some are just plain terrible, but for better worse, here are our favorite food trends for the past ten years.
Food Documentaries - We're partial to Meet Your Meat, but several food documentaries and books made their marks on history in the last ten years. Some others worth mentioning: Super Size Me, a documentary by Morgan Spurlock and Fast Food Nation a book and film by Eric Schlosser.
Sliders - Before Harold and Kumar ever went to White Castle, sliders, gut grenades, and belly bombers were already snacking favorites. Yet the aughts transformed these tiny burgers into haut cuisine. All of a sudden some of the finer restaurants started cranking out sliders as though they had re-discovered some sort of long-forgotten peasant cuisine. We love burgers, but plunking down major cash for a mouthful of moo meat betwixt bread is a trend we can do without post-2009.
Food Network - Is Food Network single-handedly responsible for the obesity epidemic plaguing America? Probably not, but it is responsible for making us dream about cooking with more garlic, bacon fat, fried butter and examining the culinary attributes that turn every day dishes into good eats. The proof of Food Network's influence lies no farther than the careers of some of its stars. Ted Allen made the jump from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy to shows such as "Food Detectives" and "Chopped." Rachel Ray has gone from slinging E.V.O.O. (extra virgin olive oil) to her own talk show and a magazine. But it's Emeril "Bam" Lagasse who has enjoyed the most success. He's not even on Food Network that often anymore, but his spirit is ever-present, like a Greek God of cooking deserving of smoky kitchen sacrifices for paving the way.
Low Carb - So you're telling us our waistbands will get looser if we abstain from eating carbs? Meanwhile we can gorge ourselves on things like beef jerky, red meat, cheese, and (the occasional) veggies? Get real. How about this? Eat carbs as well as all the other parts of a balanced diet and get some exercise every once in a while? This is one trend we're going to be happy to see go. Dr. Atkins made a ton of money on the low-carb craze, but really his books should have only contained one sentence: If you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise more.
Cupcakes - Like many of the trends of the 2000's cupcakes aren't a new idea so much as a tried and true one dialed up. Cupcakes used to exist in the realm of motherhood; a treat prepared with mom's loving care for special occasiona. These days cupcakes are sexy indulgences available in so many flavors that Baskin Robbins is jealous. Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting? Check. Banana nut cupcakes with peanut butter? Double check. We may not know what dessert will replace the cupcake in the pantheon of sweets in the years following 2009, but until it shows up, we'll be munching on cupcakes.
Smoothies - Three cheers to smoothies. Whether yours comes from a provider like Jamba Juice or your home blender, we can agree that consuming this tasty beverage is like slamming down a milkshake that's good for you. If there's one thing the aughts taught us about smoothie-making it's that freezing your fruit is absolutely essential. The result is a frothy drink that incorporates all the ingredients without the threat of dreaded separation. If there's another thing the aughts taught us about smoothies, it's that they taste better with a letter sorbet or gelato. Take that, healthy eating!
"Fusion" - Let's get one thing straight right now: "fusion" is an unnecessary word. We prefer the term "creativity." Don't get us wrong, we love it when skilled chefs combine culinary cultures to create new flavor sensations, but labeling them "fusion" seems more like an excuse to add $5 on the menu price than a necessary label.
Bacon - We've always loved bacon. It's bacon for goodness sake! But it was during the 2000's that we received bacon donuts, bacon chocolate, bacon vodka, bacon ice cream and bacon-wrapped anything you can think of. Let's hope this is one trend that continues frying up in the future.
More Nutrition Information Than You Can Shake a Rice Cake At - In the past, food products had one nutrition label. These days that old black and white stand-by is still there, but so are quick look labels letting you know how many calories are in your box of Honey Nut Cheerios or how much saturated fat is in your chips. Really, 2000's? Have we become so lazy that we're unwilling to flip over the packaging to find out whether the cereal we want to eat is healthy or not? Let's leave this unnecessary trend behind.
Food Blogs - Web logs have been around since the dawn of the interwebs, but some of our favorite food blogs showed up this decade. Whether you're one of the national followers checking out Chez Pim on a daily basis or just a local blog reader, there are plenty to go around. We're partial to The Impulsive Buy and The Food In My Beard.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.